How to make a foam archery target that serves for long?
- Erik Himmel
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An archer, be a beginner or an advanced one, wants to use a target to make himself/herself a better shooter with improved accuracy. It’s understandable why quality targets are critical. Then, why foam for an archery target and no other materials? Its versatility and ability to survive violent strikes from arrows/broad heads should suffice. Moreover, you can customize the target size and foam density as required if you make one on your own. Need more reasons to learn how to make a foam archery target? I bet you don’t. So, let’s…
How to make a foam archery target?
Don’t worry, it won’t take you long hours to make one. Stay with me, and you’ll learn how to make a foam archery target.
- 24″ square foam floor mats
- 6 – 3′ lengths of 2×4
- 2 – 1′ lengths of 2×4
- 3″ Exterior wood screws (star heads)
- Box cutter
- Circular saw (or hand saw)
- Power drill (Corded, powerful)
- 1/2″ drill bit
- Grinder with cutoff disc (or hacksaw)
- 8 – 3/8″ nuts (coarse thread)
- 8 – 3/8″ washers
- 8 – 1/2″ washers
- 4 – 4′ lengths of 3/8″ coarse threaded rod
- 3/8″ spanner wrench (or adjustable spanner)
- Locking pliers
Make your foam ready for the job
First, you need to measure and cut the foam pieces into a suitable size for a target. About now you may be thinking “Why don’t I just duct tape my foam together and set it on the ground?” You could if you want, but then you wouldn’t be able to shuffle the pieces around when the center gets shot out. If you decide to do that, that’s fine, but don’t say I didn’t warn you. Anyways, here’s what you need to do
Take your T-square and measure 12″ from the edge of each piece, and make a little mark there. Make sure to restack them all facing the same way after you make the mark. Now, rotate the stack 90 degrees and use the T-square to draw a line through the mark you made before. After you’ve done that, use the box cutter to cut all the foam pieces in half along the line. Make sure to take the time to make the cuts as straight as possible. Otherwise, you won’t have a smooth surface to shoot your fast, lightweight arrows at. When you’ve cut all of them, set them aside for now.
Make the base
Now it’s time to build something for your target to sit on. If you haven’t already cut your 2x4s into the required lengths, do that now (you’ll need 6 – 3′ lengths and 2 – 1′ lengths). Take 4 of the 3′ lengths, and use the screws to make the desired shape. There is 12″ of board sticking out past the horizontal boards in the middle on each side. After you’ve made the base, measure 4 1/2″ from the end of each of the center boards and put dots in the middle. Now, use your 1/2″ drill bit to bore a hole through the boards where you put the dots.
Make the top ready
Now, we need to build the top of the target, which will compress the foam pieces into a solid target so we can shoot at them edge-on (if that doesn’t make sense, look at the picture of the finished target and take note of the orientation of the foam pieces).
Take the remaining 2x4s (you should have 2 pieces 3′ long and 2 pieces 1′ long), and use some more screws to build the shape you see in the first picture. There is 8″ of board sticking out on either side. After you make the shape, use the base as a guide to drill 4 more 1/2″ holes in the top piece. It is important that the holes line up.
Use the threaded rods
Now, you have to put the threaded rods into the base. Lean the base on its side and put the threaded rods in the holes. Then, on the underside of the base, put first a 1/2″ washer, then a 3/8″ washer, then a 3/8″ nut onto the end of each rod. Screw in the nut until there is about an inch of threaded rod sticking out past each nut.
Add the foam
Stack your foam pieces like you see in the picture. Make sure that they are all lined up so that the surface of the target is relatively smooth. When you’re done with that, slide the top piece down over the threaded rods.
Compress the added foam
We’re almost done, but this step is rather tedious and time-consuming, so be prepared. Now you have to screw the nuts onto the threaded rods. I do not recommend cutting the extra few feet of the threaded rods off to make it easier, because it can really screw things up. It is very hard to get a clean enough cut through threaded rod that it doesn’t mess up the threads and make it impossible to get the nut to go on, especially using a grinder.
If you use a hacksaw, it will take you longer to make the cuts than it would have to just screw the nuts all the way down. Once you’ve screwed the nuts all the way down (pull up on them once you think you’re done just to be sure, they might lift up another inch or two), use a sharpie to make a mark to show how far down the nuts are on the threaded rods.
Now, take the locking pliers and lock them on to the threaded rod to prevent it from spinning, as seen in the third image. Use your spanner wrench to tighten down the nuts on each rod, doing a little bit on each rod, then moving to the next one, until you have compressed the foam down several inches, which you can see by looking at the marks on the threaded rods.
You want to compress it enough to prevent it from moving at all, but not enough that it’s hard to remove your arrows. You may have to shoot a few arrows into it and adjust the nuts accordingly.
Get rid of the excess
This step is straightforward. Take your grinder or hacksaw, and cut the threaded rods off a few inches above the marks you made before you compressed the foam.
Do this last thing
Now slap a target on there and get shooting! If arrows begin to sink into the center of the target to the point where they stick out the back, simply loosen the nuts on the threaded rods, pull out the foam, rearrange it so that the foam pieces on the top and bottom are moved to the center, and tighten the nuts back down. The target will be as good as new for at least the first half dozen times you do this, and will outlast any other target.
So, what’s next? I’ve explained, and you’ve read. Easy to make, isn’t it? However, my friend, I’ve a few more words to speak. Have some patience for a minute more!
Customize the size of the target to meet your individual standards. For example, a portable target that’s easy to travel with might measure 20 inches high, 16 inches wide and 11 inches deep. Find leftover foam in packaging stores with extra packing material.
Finally, I would suggest you to test the durability and effectiveness of the target at a close range with field points before using broad heads.